In Medicine we have teased out the risk factors for coronary heart disease with evidence based research. I know as a Cardiologist, if we eliminate or reduce the quanta of these risk factors, we will potentially improve the morbidity and mortality of that patient or cohort. The major contributors to CHD are smoking, hypertension, faulty nutrition, over-weight-obesity(OWOB’s) and diabetes. Yes there are a collection of other lesser contributing factors, individually and with others and I will comment soon.
Yes, CHD is a self inflicted disease, because the individual is responsible for the use of tobacco and consumption of sugar, processed CHO, trans fats and vegetable oils. Sugar and processed CHO are responsible for OWOB, abdominal omental fat, and diabetes.So if we eliminated smoking, processed CHO, sucrose sugar and fructose corn syrup we would do away with CHD, OWOB and diabetes almost entirely. Thats easy, just tell the proletariat and we will reverse the staggering cost,of vascular disease and diabetes.If only medicine was as easy as that. When we leave the time capsule for the numerous other ‘intelligent life,’ that will with time find us after extinction, they will be confused at our stupidity, that Einstein felt was ‘infinite’!
Yes, we inflict the misery of these diseases on ourselves, shorten our lives, complain at the cost and do very little to attenuate them. Smoking cessation has had some success in small cohorts. Are we entirely to blame? No. We have reached this stage in our evolution adapting along the way, like any other species has and the quality of our judgement, decisions, decides whether we survive or not and how well. In my publication Stone Agers in the Wrong Lane, I argue several decisions have set us on the wrong course for survival. Encephalisation may have been the basis of our quandary subsequently and with the future, but we did not knowingly effect it.
The Neolithic period was quite different. We have the biochemical, structural and atomic evidence from the Neolithic period homosapiens skeletons, showing distinct features consistent with metabolic changes, arising from the changed nutrition. Debate about the origin of the Neolithic period continues, but to make these changes slowly throughout the planet, was a voluntary decision of the species at each occasion and place.
Grain flour became a staple component of a range of edible products of which the breads were the most common. Mechanisation effected more processing and flour, a nutrition less calorie product, became the basis of the processed food industry. From the 18th century, comment on its weight gaining features was publically known. Queen Victoria avoided wheat flour products, to lessen weight gain.
I have covered the CHD autopsy revelations late in the 19th century and the description of occlusions and heart attacks early in the 20th century, the latter becoming an epidemic later in the century, the ‘Period of Decadence’. Processed food and sugar consumption accompanied the epidemic of CHD, as well as OWOB and Diabetes. Saturated fat and cholesterol consumption flat lined essentially through the 20th century and so far this 21st century. Tabacco use in the US has fallen but only modestly. Interestingly, sucrose sugar consumption in the USA has shadowed the prevalence of CHD and Lustig makes a persuasive case, that the fructose component of sucrose and its use as a sweetner as corn syrup, may be primarily responsible for OWOB, diabetes and CHD in the last quarter of the 20th century.
I contend there was another important factor in the evolution of CHD and that was Colonialism, transferring grain agriculture and nutrition throughout the planet and the opportunity for major production on the prairies of the colonies. This cocktail of factors led to a CHO production, consumption and population explosion in the last 150 years. Now we contend with CHO initiated chronic and acute diseases. This has been interpreted as a success in some poorly informed quarters.
It’s a disaster for 70-80% of the non affluent World population who live, with malnutrition, infection, OWOB and our degenerative diseases, in poverty, that the affluent world says it is solving! Colonialism converted established hunter-gatherer life and nutrition practices of the New World Indigenous peoples, without our degenerative diseases, to those that produced the small, pale, bent, sickly white men of Europe!
Dr.Lindsay A. Green. FRACP. FCSANZ.